Occasionally a visitor to this blog will say something like, "It's not healthy to be so obsessed with life after death. You guys need to get out and live a little, and forget all this morbid stuff."
I take their point, but I think this criticism misses the mark in two respects.
First, it's doubtful that most contributors to this blog are single-mindedly obsessed with postmortem survival. It may appear that way, but only because life after death (and the paranormal in general) is the main subject matter here. I would assume that most of us have a variety of other interests and activities that aren’t reflected in the comments posted on this site.
As an analogy, suppose someone were to drop in on a blog devoted to model railroading and tell the readers there's more to life than train sets. Well, the blog's readers already know that; it's just that model railroading is the particular interest that happens to bring them together in that forum. No doubt most model railroaders have many other things going on in their lives – things that just don't come up on a narrowly focused blog.
The other problem with this kind of criticism is that it assumes there's no practical here-and-now value to contemplating life after death or psi. This might seem like a safe assumption, given the esoteric nature of the subject. But I've found it's not true. I can name specific ways in which immersion in this material has been of immediate practical benefit to me.
For one thing, I've gained a greater appreciation of the role of the unconscious in creative work. Arthur Ellison's description of the active agent in the unconscious, which he nicknamed "George," has been especially helpful. Just yesterday I was working out the plot of my next book and hit a stumbling block. Rather than grind my teeth and work the problem to death, I made the decision to hand over the problem to George and think about something else. I told George I wanted a solution within 24 hours. Today, about 24 hours later, I sat down with a pad and pen, not having thought about the book at all (consciously) in the interim. Without strain, I filled several pages with notes on how to develop the story and solve the problem that was bothering me. George had done his job! I could have saved myself much frustration and wasted effort if I'd known about this technique in my younger days.
Another example: I've mentioned in the past that I have a habit of doing guided meditations in which I address personal questions to a spirit guide. Almost always, the answers I receive are insightful and helpful. I’m able to gain a valuable new perspective on current problems and to resolve unwanted inner conflicts. I don't know the source of these answers – whether it is my unconscious mind, my higher self, an actual spirit guide, or some other source. But whatever their origin, these answers have been enormously useful to me in coping with stress and clearing up emotional disturbances.
Yet another example: When I was in my mid-30s, I had something of a midlife crisis which I felt that my accomplishments up to that point were basically meaningless. This inner crisis prompted me to take a more serious look at spiritual and mystical traditions, and eventually at psi and the afterlife. Gradually I developed a new worldview that largely resolved the issues that had troubled me. Without this worldview, I might well have sunk into the cynicism and anomie that characterize much of the Western intellectual world today. Paradoxical as it may seem, my interest in esoteric subjects kept me grounded.
As my awareness of psi has grown, I've become much more comfortable trusting my intuition. I used to have a terrible time making important decisions. I could convincingly argue a case for almost any course of action – which left me in the position of not knowing which course to take. I’d make myself almost crazy, writing up lists of pro and con arguments, and getting nowhere. The idea of trusting my intuition was foreign to me; I'm not sure I would even have known where to begin. Now, however, I find it much easier to make decisions, because I'm much more in touch with my intuitive self. I also don't see the consequences of a "wrong" decision as so devastating, because life lessons can be learned from almost any situation.
A study of psi and the afterlife can prove valuable in other ways. The life review reported by near-death experiencers, for instance, provides a powerful incentive to treat people as you yourself would like to be treated. My capacity for empathy, which used to be rather stunted, has expanded considerably since I started taking such reports seriously.
There is also a practical value to opening up your mind to previously taboo possibilities. Admittedly, there’s a danger of becoming so open-minded that your critical faculty is compromised. But the downside of maintaining a rigorously closed mind is probably greater: stifled creativity, lack of imagination, intolerance of other points of view, and an arrogant egocentrism that insists it's either “my way or the highway."
I'm sure there are many other benefits of learning about the unacknowledged capabilities of consciousness, and the mysterious realms of nonphysical existence. Anything that expands our horizons and broadens our perspective carries a host of potential advantages. Those who think they have nothing to gain from exploring these subjects don't know what they're missing. They really ought to give it a try before they decide, without benefit of personal experience, that it's all a big waste of time.